I was delighted to be asked to join this blog tour for ‘Conjure Women’ by 4th Estate books. Welcome to more bookish chat…
The pale-skinned, black-eyed baby is a bad omen. That’s one thing the people on the old plantation are sure of. The other is that Miss Rue midwife, healer, crafter of curses – will know what to do.Conjure Women
But for once Rue doesn’t know. Times have changed since her mother Miss May Belle held the power to influence the life and death of her fellow slaves. Freedom has come. The master’s Big House lies in ruins. But this new world brings new dangers, and Rue’s old magic may be no match for them.
When sickness sweeps across her tight-knit community, Rue finds herself the focus of suspicion. What secrets does she keep amidst the charred remains of the Big House? Which spells has she conjured to threaten their children? And why is she so wary of the charismatic preacher man who promises to save them all?
Rue understands fear. It has shaped her life and her mother’s before her. And now she knows she must face her fears – and her ghosts – to find a new way forward for herself and her people.
This is a debut novel from the pen of Afia Atakora and it’s a brilliant but challenging read set around the American Civil War. The focus of the story is through three generations of women on a plantation: Miss May Belle, her daughter Rue and the daughter of their plantation owner/master, Varina.
Atakora is a beautiful writer, her skill with prose weaves the reader into the lives of these women: it’s an immersive journey back into the past. It is about the women, their roles based on their gender and skin colour. It’s about loss, hope, friendship, society, cruelty, violence, lust and magic.
This is a challenging book to read, it’s emotional and uncomfortable at times but Atakora’s writing craft balances this well. Slavery and oppression are always difficult to digest, but it’s such an important read, speaking out beautifully about womanhood, motherhood and the bonds created between people.
A thought-provoking, beautifully crafted novel of the female and enslavement.
Afia Atakora was born in the United Kingdom and raised in New Jersey, where she now lives. She graduated from New York University and has an MFA from Columbia University, where she was the recipient of the De Alba Fellowship. Her fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and she was a finalist for the Hurston/Wright Award for College Writers